Nnamdi Kanu

Nnamdi Okwu Kanu (born 25 September 1967)[4][5] is a British Nigerian[6] Biafra political activist. He is the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB).The main aim of IPOB is to create an independent state for the people of old Eastern Region of Nigeria through an independent referendum.[7] Kanu is the director of a UK registered radio station named Radio Biafra.[8] Kanu was arrested on treason charges in Lagos, Nigeria on 14 October 2015 and was detained for more than a year, despite various court orders that ruled for his release. When in court, Kanu appeared regularly wearing a Jewish prayer shawl and head covering. He said in court, that he "believes in Judaism" and considers himself a Jew and oftentimes has led his Biafran people to various Jewish prayers and religious observations.[9] On 28 April 2017, Kanu was released from prison on bail.[2]

Nnamdi Kanu
Nnamdi Kanu Photo.jpg
Kanu in Umuahia May 2017
Nwannekaenyi Nnamdi Okwu Kanu

1967 (age 53–54)
Isiama Afara, Abia State[1]
EducationUniversity of Nigeria, Nsukka[2]
OccupationPolitical Economist
Known for
Notable work
Radio Biafra
OfficeThe Leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra
MovementIndigenous People of Biafra
Spouse(s)Uchechi Okwu Kanu[3]

Early lifeEdit

Kanu was born in Isiama Afara Ukwu, Umuahia, Abia State, the Republic of Biafra. His father is Eze Israel Okwu Kanu (JP)[10] and his mother, Ugoeze Nnenne Kanu.[1] He attended Library Avenue Primary School and went to Government College Umuahia for his secondary education. He studied at University of Nigeria, Nsukka and moved to the UK before graduating.[2]



On 5 September 2015, Nnamdi Kanu was a guest speaker at the World Igbo Congress which was held in Los Angeles, where he told his audience "we need guns and we need bullets".[11] In an interview in June 2017, Kanu explained his comment saying that he demanded for bullets and guns from a group of US-based Nigerians for self-defense against the incessant attacks on Igbos by Fulani herdsmen which were currently reoccurring in Biafra lands.[12]

Civil disobedienceEdit

Kanu's pronounced strategy has been the application of civil disobedience in pressing home his demand for the freedom of his people. In various air broadcasts, Nnamdi Kanu stated how his adoption of Martin Luther King Jr. and Mahatma Gandhi's forms of civil disobedience will lead to the "restoration of Biafra". In an interview granted to Newsweek, Nnamdi Kanu opined his belief in the teachings of Martin Luther King Jr. and Mahatma Gandhi, "I hope that what we are looking for can be accomplished peacefully. I am an advocate of passive resistance. Gandhi and Martin Luther King tried it to very good effects, so why should it not work in our case?"

Prior to the 2019 presidential election, IPOB had threatened to boycott the election. According to the leader of IPOB, Nnamdi Kanu, "It [the boycott] is a multi-faceted approach. It is civil disobedience, passive resistance, it is an expression of our resentment of Nigeria and what it represents". His position on election boycotts was widely criticised by local Nigerian politicians who argued to the contrary. On the eve of the election, Nnamdi Kanu lifted the boycott position and urged Biafrans to participate in the election after which he described as his condition as "signed, sealed and delivered".[13] His shift was received in different quarters as being open to the appeal and opinions of others.

Armed conflictEdit

In December 2020, Kanu announced the formation of the Eastern Security Network (ESN), a regional security force. Kanu later gave all the governors of southeast Nigeria 14 days to ban open grassing, threatening to deploy the ESN to enforce a ban if the authorities did not do so.[14] The Nigerian response to the formation of the ESN led to the Orlu Crisis, which started week-long military confrontation in which the ESN threw back an initial Nigerian Army offensive, prompting the deployment of reinforcements. Before another offensive was launched, Kanu ordered the ESN to withdraw to the bush, temporarily ending the confrontation.[15] The Nigerian army and air force renewed hostilities on February 18 by launching a military offensive against the ESN; the next day, IPOB declared that as of 18 February, a state of war had existed between Nigeria and Biafra.[16]



On 18 October 2015, it was reported that Kanu had been arrested in Lagos State by Nigeria's secret police, the Department of State Services (DSS).[17][18] Kanu had told his solicitors that on 14 October 2015, he was arrested by the agents of the Federal Government of Nigeria, the State Security Service (SSS), in his hotel room at the Golden Tulip Essential Hotel Ikeja, Lagos State.[19] The solicitors in a press briefing said, between 14 and 17 October 2015 their client's whereabouts were unknown until 18 October 2015, when the press media broke the news of his arrest and detention by the SSS in Abuja.[19] The news of the arrest of Kanu generated protests across Delta State, Enugu State, Rivers State, Cross River State, Abia State, Imo State, Akwa Ibom Sate, Bayelsa State and Anambra State.[20]


On 19 October 2015, it was reported that Nnamdi Kanu had been granted bail[21] after a secret arraignment at Magistrate Court, Wuse 11.[22] However, the bail seemed "controversial" and there were claims the DSS announced the bail only "to calm the angry people of Biafra".[23]


Court jurisdictionEdit

The Magistrate Court 1 sitting in Abuja on 18 November 2015 ordered the Department of State Services (DSS) to produce Kanu at the court on 23 November 2015.[24] However, it was reported the Department of State Services (DSS) obtained a "secret court order to detain Nnamdi Kanu".[25][26][27] Kanu's lawyer, Vincent Obetta, in an interview said whilst in court, the prosecutor gave him a document containing a court order permitting the Department of State Services (DSS) to detain Kanu for the next three months to "conclude what they said was an investigation of terrorism and terrorism financing".[28]

Court trialEdit

Kanu was finally arraigned on 23 November 2015 in an Abuja Magistrate Court for the first time[29][30] for charges of "criminal conspiracy, intimidation and membership of an illegal organisation" by Nigeria's Department of State Services (DSS). The charges violate "Section 97, 97B and 397" of Nigeria's penal code.[31][32] Chief Magistrate S. Usman had, at the last adjourned date, berated the Department of State Services (DSS) over its failure to produce Kanu in court on the two consecutive times the matter came up before the court.[33] Meanwhile, Kanu's supporters stormed Nigeria's capital city of Abuja in luxury buses on a peaceful protest for their leader who was arraigned by the Federal Government before the Wuse Zone 2 Magistrate Court, Abuja on 23 November 2015.[34][35][36] Pro-Biafra protesters with placards sang and danced outside the court premises whilst the hearing proceeded. Protesters wore T-shirts and caps with inscriptions like "Biafra Now or Never", "Buhari Release Kanu For Us", "On Biafra We Stand". More protests by IPOB members numbering over 15,000 grounded vehicular movements in the southeastern key economic city of Onitsha concurrently. It was the same with over 20,000 protesters in Aba, Abia State on the same day.[33][36]

Kanu, through his counsel, filed an application asking the federal authorities to transfer him from the custody of the Department of State Services (DSS) to prison. His lawyer, Obetta, insisted that transferring his client to prison would enable him to have easy access to his legal team.[33]

Whilst in court, the Department of State Services (DSS) requested the Wuse Zone 2 Senior Magistrates' Court, to discontinue the trial of Nnamdi Kanu under section 108(1) of administration of criminal justice act 2015.[37] Idakwo further said the Department of State Services (DSS) had obtained an order from the Federal High Court, Abuja, dated 10 November, to detain the accused in its custody for 90 days.[37] However, Kanu's lawyer Obetta objected to the continued detention of his client. Obetta prayed the court not to discontinue the case because the prosecution did not present any information from the Attorney-General of Nigeria Federation who had the authority to approve such. Obetta also told the court that "the DSS violated the order of the court which granted bail that was perfected but not granted, adding that the accused had been in Department of State Services (DSS) custody since he was arrested."[37] The court's magistrate, Usman Shuaibu, after listening to both counsels, adjourned the matter until 1 December 2015 for ruling.[37]

Prison releaseEdit

On 20 October 2015, Vanguard announced that Kanu had been released on bail. However, media sources supporting the objectives of IPOB called the bail "controversial" and claimed the DSS announced the bail only "to calm the angry people of Biafra".[23] Kanu has finally been released on bail by Justice Binta Nyako for health reasons.


Kanu disappeared from public view after his home was raided by the Nigerian military, in September of 2017, an event which led to the deaths of 28 IPOB members.[38][39] Not being seen in public for over a year, there was wide-ranging speculation regarding his whereabouts, with members of the IPOB accusing the Buhari government of having abducted him. However, in October of 2018, unattributed photographs and videos, apparently placing him in Israel, were widely circulated on social media.[40]


Kanu has since the beginning of his advocacy made highly controversial comments on various occasions.

  • Sometime in 2017, a video of Kanu was released wherein he issued an open death threat to former Nigerian president Chief Obasanjo. He had told a gathering of supporters at his home that if any harm comes to him, members of IPOB should eliminate Obasanjo and his lineage.[41] This was in reference to Obasanjo's statement at a gathering in Abuja that all must be done to Stop IPOB.
  • In April 2020, Nigerian investigative journalist, Kemi Omololu-Olunloyo claimed Nnamdi Kanu is dead.[42] Later, on March 7, 2020, Daily Post[43] reported that Northern and Southern organisations, Peace Accord Forum (PAF) believe Nnamdi Kanu is dead as well.


  1. ^ a b "Nnamdi's father speaks… 'My son 'll rather die than back out of Biafra struggle'". The Sun. 14 November 2015. Retrieved 5 December 2015. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  2. ^ a b c Hegarty, Stephanie (5 May 2017). "Biafran leader Nnamdi Kanu: The man behind Nigeria's separatists". London, UK: BBC. Retrieved 6 May 2017. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  3. ^ "Nnamdi Kanu's wife speaks: 'My husband is a prisoner of conscience'". International Business Times. 1 December 2015. Retrieved 5 December 2015. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  4. ^ "Fani kayode Sends Birthday Greetings to Nnamdi Kanu @52". akelicious.net. 26 September 2019. Retrieved 20 November 2019. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  5. ^ Mahr, Krista (30 April 2019). "The dream of Biafra lives on in underground Nigerian radio broadcasts". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 20 November 2019. A frequent voice on Radio Biafra is its founder, 51-year-old Nnamdi Kanu, who is patched in from London. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  6. ^ Freeman, Colin (21 January 2017). "The man fighting for independence of the West African nation of Biafra... from a flat in Peckham". The Daily Telegraph. London, UK. Retrieved 7 May 2017.
  7. ^ Allison, Simon (6 October 2017). "Mystery of the missing Biafran separatist". The M&G Online. Retrieved 20 November 2019.
  8. ^ "Nigeria police shoot Biafra supporters". BBC News. 18 December 2015. Retrieved 22 August 2017.
  9. ^ "What's An Igbo 'Jewish High Priest' Doing at Center of Political Drama in Nigeria?". The Forward. Retrieved 17 May 2017.
  10. ^ "I'm proud of Nnamdi Kanu, he's just like me — Father". Punch Newspapers. Retrieved 24 May 2020.
  11. ^ Egbejule, Eromo; Anyadike, Obi (16 December 2016). "Nigeria fails to come to grips with separatist 'New Biafra'". IRIN. Retrieved 22 August 2017.
  12. ^ Chijioke, Jannah (27 June 2017). "Biafra: Why I asked for guns from US-based Nigerians – Nnamdi Kanu". Daily Post. Retrieved 22 August 2017.
  13. ^ Onyeji, Ebuka (15 February 2019). "Nigeria: IPOB - Nnamdi Kanu 'Calls-Off' Election Boycott". allAfrica.com. Retrieved 24 May 2020.
  14. ^ IPOB gives Southeast governors 14 days ultimatum to ban open grazing, The Nation, Jan 30, 2021. Accessed Jan 30, 2021.
  15. ^ Orlu: Nnamdi Kanu orders ESN to ceasefire against Army, watchful of Fulani herdsmen, Daily Post, Jan 28, 2021. Accessed Jan 28, 2021.
  16. ^ Second Nigeria/Biafra War Has Just Started But We Will Defend Our Land — IPOB , Sahara Reports, Feb 19, 2021. Accessed Feb 20, 2021.
  17. ^ "Nigeria Protesters Demand Release of Jailed Radio Biafra Director". VOA News. 11 November 2015. Retrieved 5 December 2015. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  18. ^ Uguru, Hilary (19 October 2015). "Nigerian intelligence arrests Biafran separatist leader". Yahoo News. Retrieved 22 October 2015. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  19. ^ a b Sahara Reporters (14 November 2015). "Nnamdi Kanu's Lawyer Issues Statement on DSS And Efforts To Release Him From Detention". saharareporters.com.
  20. ^ "Radio Biafra Director, Nnamdi Kanu reportedly arrested". Vanguard News. 18 October 2015. Retrieved 22 October 2015. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  21. ^ Vanguard Nigeria (19 October 2015). "Breaking: Radio Biafra's Nnamdi Kanu Granted Bail". vanguardngr.com.
  22. ^ Vanguard Nigeria (24 October 2015). "DSS refuse to produce Radio Biafra Director, Nnamdi Kanu – Lawyer". vanguardngr.com.
  23. ^ a b Ludovica Iaccino. "Nnamdi Kanu: Ipob leader whereabouts unknown despite Nigeria security forces claiming he is on bail". International Business Times UK. Retrieved 22 October 2015. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  24. ^ "Biafra: Court Orders DSS to Produce Nnamdi Kanu Nov.23". This Day Live, Nigeria. 18 November 2015 – via thisdaylive.com.
  25. ^ "Biafra: DSS springs surprise, obtains secret court order to detain Nnamdi Kanu for 90 days". News Express Nigeria. 19 November 2015 – via newsexpressngr.com.
  26. ^ "Pro-Biafra Protest Grounds Aba". Daily Times, Nigeria. 9 November 2015 – via /dailytimes.com.ng.
  27. ^ "Pro-Biafra Activists Continue Protests in Aba". The Guardian. 10 November 2015 – via www.ngrguardiannews.com.
  28. ^ Iaccino, Ludovica (20 November 2015). "Nigeria: State 'obtains court order' to detain Biafran leader Nnamdi Kanu for next three months" – via uk.news.yahoo.com.
  29. ^ Vanguard, Nigeria (23 November 2015). "Breaking: Nnamdi Kanu finally appears in Court". "/vanguardngr.com".
  30. ^ IBTimes, UK (23 November 2015). "Nigeria: Radio Biafra leader Nnamdi Kanu appears in court despite death rumours". "/ibtimes.co.uk".
  31. ^ "Biafra protests in Nigeria driven by poverty, neglect, injustice". AFP. 20 November 2015.
  32. ^ Premium Times, Nigeria (23 November 2015). "Biafra: SSS seeks transfer of Nnamdi Kanu's case to higher court". "/premiumtimesng.com".
  33. ^ a b c Vanguard, Nigeria (24 November 2015). "Biafra: Transfer me to prison custody, Kanu begs court". vanguardngr.com.
  34. ^ Vanguard, Nigeria (23 November 2015). "Photos: Protest in Abuja, as FG arraigns Nnamdi Kanu in Court". vanguardngr.com.
  35. ^ The Sun, Nigeria (23 November 2015). "Pro-Biafra protesters storm Abuja as SSS arraigns Kanu in court". sunnewsonline.com.
  36. ^ a b Linda Ikeji, Nigeria (23 November 2015). "Photos: Supporters of Pro-Biafran leader, Nnamdi Kanu storm Abuja court". lindaikejisblog.com.
  37. ^ a b c d Vanguard, Nigeria (23 November 2015). "DSS asks court to discontinue Kanu's trial". "/vanguardngr.com".
  38. ^ "Nigeria: At least 150 peaceful pro-Biafra activists killed in chilling crackdown". www.amnesty.org. Retrieved 7 January 2021.
  39. ^ Tayo, Sola; Mbah, Fidelis (9 November 2017). "Calls for Biafran Independence Return to South East Nigeria". Chatham House. Retrieved 9 November 2017. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  40. ^ "Nnamdi KANU Resurfaces in Jerusalem 1 year after mysterious disappearance". Pulse Ng.
  41. ^ "Nnamdi Kanu Threatens To Kill Obasanjo". Sahara Reporters. 6 July 2017. Retrieved 14 April 2020.
  42. ^ "JUST IN: IPOB Leader Nnamdi Kanu is Dead". Daily News Joint. 27 April 2020. Retrieved 6 March 2021. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  43. ^ Wale Odunsi (7 May 2020). "Aisha Buhari: Nnamdi Kanu dead, IPOB knows his grave – Coalition explodes". Daily Post. Archived from the original on 7 May 2020. Retrieved 6 March 2021. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)